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Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark explains his motivation for joining Saddam Hussein's legal defense team:
Late last month, I traveled to Amman, Jordan, and met with the family and lawyers of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. I told them that I would help in his defense in any way I could.I expected the typical "everyone deserves a fair trial" explanantion to follow - who could argue against that? But apparently Clark has stood for something else all his life. The short version: The US is evil.
The news, when it found its way back to the United States, caused something of a stir. A few news reports were inquisitive - and some were skeptical - but most were simply dismissive or derogatory. "There goes Ramsey Clark again," they seemed to say. "Isn't it a shame? He used to be attorney general of the United States and now look at what he's doing."
So let me explain why defending Saddam Hussein is in line with what I've stood for all my life and why I think it's the right thing to do now.
Both international law and the Constitution of the United States guarantee the right to effective legal representation to any person accused of a crime. This is especially important in a highly politicized situation, where truth and justice can become even harder to achieve. That's certainly the situation today in Iraq. The war has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and the widespread destruction of civilian properties essential to life. President Bush, who initiated and oversees the war, has manifested his hatred for Hussein, publicly proclaiming that the death penalty would be appropriate.And here I thought he was only in it for the money.
The United States, and the Bush administration in particular, engineered the demonization of Hussein, and it has a clear political interest in his conviction. Obviously, a fair trial of Hussein will be difficult to ensure - and critically important to the future of democracy in Iraq. This trial will write history, affect the course of violence around the world and have an impact on hopes for reconciliation within Iraq.
Hussein has been held illegally for more than a year without once meeting a family member, friend or lawyer of his choice. Though the world has seen him time and again on television - disheveled, apparently disoriented with someone prying deep into his mouth and later alone before some unseen judge - he has been cut off from all communications with the outside world and surrounded by the same U.S. military that mistreated prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
International law requires that every criminal court be competent, independent and impartial. The Iraqi Special Tribunal lacks all of these essential qualities. It was illegitimate in its conception - the creation of an illegal occupying power that demonized Saddam Hussein and destroyed the government it now intends to condemn by law.
The United States has already destroyed any hope of legitimacy, fairness or even decency by its treatment and isolation of the former president and its creation of the Iraqi Special Tribunal to try him.
In a trial of Hussein and other former Iraqi officials, affirmative measures must be taken to prevent prejudice from affecting the conduct of the case and the final judgment of the court. This will be a major challenge. But nothing less is acceptable.
Finally, any court that considers criminal charges against Saddam Hussein must have the power and the mandate to consider charges against leaders and military personnel of the U.S., Britain and the other nations that participated in the aggression against Iraq, if equal justice under law is to have meaning.
No power, or person, can be above the law. For there to be peace, the days of victor's justice must end.
As a lawyer, may I say WHAT CRAP!?Posted by P Parke at January 26, 2005 03:14 AM
Wasn't Clark one of the folks who held the "war crimes tribunal" back in the early 90's for the Gulf War?Posted by Patrick Chester at January 26, 2005 05:16 AM
We may shoot Ramsey Clark right after Saddam. Better yet, shoot Saddam and then try him.Posted by Jim Martin at January 26, 2005 06:12 AM
How can this guy come up with a reason for keeping himself alive?? He's as repulsive as Boxer.Posted by sueb/mn at January 26, 2005 06:24 PM
He sure is one sick dude.Posted by gene at January 26, 2005 07:28 PM
Whil I was letting blood an losing same in Nam the AG of USA sent one son to Cnada an another to Sweden so they would not have to fight a "Capitalist" war. Guess his name?Posted by Rod Stanton at January 28, 2005 07:34 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)